USA qualified for Qatar World Cup despite losing 2-0 to Costa Rica in the final match of CONCACAF WC qualifying.
Costa Rica maintained its unbeaten record at home against the United States in World Cup qualifying matches with a comfortable win at the Estadio Nacional in San Juan. USA were perhaps impeded by the fact that they needed to lose by a 6 goal difference which was unlikely.
The match itself was not a cagey affair. Keylor Navas palmed away solid efforts from Antonee Robinson and Ricardo Pepi in the early stages as the U.S. looked for a first World Cup qualification win at Costa Rica in the team’s history.
Despite dominating possession, Berhalter’s side failed to find a way through the hosts’ defense as the first half ended scoreless.
Costa Rica took the lead early in the second half from a corner kick when Juan Vargas powered a header past Zack Steffen to make it 1-0. The hosts doubled their lead shortly after as Anthony Contreras swept home at the far post following a scramble in front of the goal.
With the memories of 2018’s final day failure against Trinidad and Tobago flooding in, the focus turned from scoring to not conceding any more goals. USA kept the deficit at two, ensuring a spot at the 2022 World Cup which will be their 11th appearance in the competition.
Despite the result, USA qualified for Qatar after finishing third in CONCACAF’s Octagonal qualifying table behind first-placed Canada and second-placed Mexico, securing an automatic spot.
Costa Rica has to settle for a fourth-place finish and now must beat New Zealand in a one-off playoff to reach football’s showpiece event.